The Lee Valley Velopark, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Audit

Living with Dementia

People living with dementia may have a wide range of disabilities, some more apparent to the observer than others. Memory and orientation, language and communication, visual perception, and movement disorders are among the problems  that may be present. Symptoms may fluctuate and can come on suddenly. Feeling anxious, tired or disorientated can increase the level of disability experienced.

More information is available here:

 The Olympic Park is a fantastic resource and a wonderful place to spend time, and the following audit indicates ways in which Lee Valley Velopark could be more accessible for everyone.

 As an outdoor space

 Arriving by public transport

 The route from Stratford:

As a person without dementia, the signage that directs from Stratford tube station to the Olympic Park is  straight-forward enough to understand. There appeared to be sufficient signs to guide the way from the station to the Velodrome, however, the signs seem to lead pedestrians heading to the Velodrome along a longer route than necessary and this was confusing. On arrival at the Velodrome it transpired there was a more direct route. Perhaps some signs were less obvious?

Stratford station is very busy and for anyone with a diagnosis of dementia support is likely to be required. We did not recommend this route, however some further instructions that could be useful for anyone unfamiliar with the area and looking for the velodrome are noted below:

  • Use the exit near platform 1
  • When you exit the station there is a queue of taxis on your right. Walk forward and go up the escalator on your left.

  • At the top turn right, leaving Marks & Spencer on your left, pass TK Max towards John Lewis.

  • Turn left at the Chestnut Plaza and ‘sculpture’

  • Follow until you get to a pedestrian crossing at Westfield Avenue and turn right.

  • Turn right at Olympic Park Avenue, and follow all the way to the Velodrome (large signpost for motor traffic).

The route from Hackney Wick:

 Arriving at Hackney Wick involves an 800 metre walk to a lift to park level from the street. Participants in Positive Spin were met by cycle taxi. Due to the level of building work and difficulty exiting the park with the cycle taxi due to the width of the barriers, participants were met on foot and guided to the cycle taxi at the top of the lift. Once the other entrance to the station is open it will be a more straightforward walk.

These may not be the quickest routes, and leaving the Park is problematic. Signs to the stations were not found.

 Arriving by car

Finding the velodrome seems to cause problems for local taxis and independent car users alike. From the A12 Eastway, the local sign is reported to be to Wanstead and not the Olympic Park.

There is plenty of disabled parking but this was confusing for one elderly gentleman who had already had trouble finding the Velopark, On asking directions from the Stadium, no one could help him. His son with Alzheimer’s was very agitated, and he assumed he could park in the car park with his blue badge. Because he was parked in the wrong place, and because he did not know to register at the parking terminal, he received a £80 parking ticket. The need to register at the terminal for free parking should be on the website.

For the Olympic Park to be inclusive and accessible for all, directions from the major roads serving the area could be clearer, and parking procedure clarified. (

Mobility transport

Mobility transport was not observed to be transporting people with disabilities on any of our visits, and were unable to help with our participants who were stranded.. They were unable to help people access the Velopark from Hackney Wick as they are not permitted to leave the boundaries of the Park. When booked to collect from the Copperbox, the participant did not connect with them.

Positive Spin anticipated or problem solved some of the difficulties in the design of the sessions.

Cycle taxi: Positive Spin participants arriving by public transport were met by cycle taxi at the lift from street level 800 metres from Hackney Wick station. Due to road works and the space between barrier posts around the perimeter of the park the cycle taxi cannot collect from the station. This was fine for people able to walk that distance and provided a fun and easy way to get to the velodrome without getting lost.

Others arriving by bus were collected from the Copper Box. Hackney residents have to change buses at Hackney Wick, which makes their journey more challenging.

Arriving via Stratford station was not recommended due to the large numbers of people using the area.


The space itself

  • The Olympic Park is full of walkways built at different levels around an intricate pattern of waterways, which make for a very pleasant walk, affording breath taking views of the area’s very interesting natural geography, and how it has been moulded by landscape architecture. However, this central feature of the Park makes it very challenging for people living with dementia.

  • The space around the Velodrome is quiet and sheltered. At this point there are no cafes or other facilities generating visual clutter and/or noise, and there are benches along the length of the building.


The signage

DEEP’s checklist helped identify a few things that could be improved with the signage:

  1. The signs within the Olympic Park that guide visitors to sites (such as the Velodrome) within it, are very high, which may be the reason for not noticing them.  Dementia would compound this problem.

  2. The signs may be too few and too far between, marring enjoyment of the visit through anxiety that the correct route is being followed.

  3. The signs do not have pictures (eg. a picture of a bicycle in the case of the Velodrome) – something that has been identified as important for people living with dementia.

  4. Each signpost holds more than one sign, and in many cases more than one sign is directing people to different facilities located in the same direction. The signs are very close together, which could be confusing to a person living with dementia. A gap of some centimetres would help to make each sign distinct.

The toilets

There were no public toilets on the way from Stratford station to the Velodrome, and no signage was noticeable.


The Velodrome (indoor space):

The Velodome is a beautiful iconic building which stands out well from the surrounding area. The purpose of the building is easily identified from the outside.

There is disabled parking nearby, and disabled access is easy for those with their own wheelchair. The entrance is clearly signalled, the reception is easy to find, and the reception area feels welcoming.

Once inside, the building is not so accessible.

  1. The signs are too high. One carer said: unless you look up, you would not know where to go, and a person with dementia may not do that. In looking for the lifts, one member of the party walked into a restricted area by mistake.

  2. Several people in the group commented that finding the toilet is confusing:

    The route to the toilets is a corridor on the upper floor, along the perimeter of the building. A clear glass wall  gives a wonderful view of the space outside, but could cause anxiety for some people with dementia who may interpret the glass as a empty space.

    One member of the group pointed out that the café is well signposted, but the ladies’ toilet less so? “I could see signs to the gents’ but not the ladies”.

  3. Inside the toilet:

There are separate male and female disabled toilets, something that can be problematic for people who need assistance. If you assist someone of a different gender, a unisex toilet is helpful. If you are a woman assisting a man, reportedly you must pass through a large area with urinals in order to access the cubicles.

The doors of the toilets have no picture of a toilet, and the doors blend with the wall. Pictures on signs and contrasting colours are very effective in helping to orientate people with communication and visual difficulties.


This audit was conducted by the First For Brian DEEP group ( using the DEEP network’s Inside and Outside audit checklists:

It is ‘work in progress’ and reflections based on those people attending Positive Spin with Bikeworks ( this winter. Different people, and the summer months, may raise further issues of accessibility for people living with dementia and their families. We hope this will be a valuable document, and would be pleased to initiate a dialogue about accessibility. If you get it right for people living with dementia, it will benefit everyone, particularly those living with a disability.